Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir

Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.

Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers—the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards.

As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort—pious and generous—who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII.

Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today’s British monarch—a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England’s most beloved consorts.

Kindle Edition, 592 pages
Expected publication: December 3rd 2013 by Ballantine Books
I received my copy free from published for an honest review
Coming on the heels of reading The White Princess by Philippa Gregory (and the release of The White Queen by BBC - I didn't watch it) I wanted to know more about Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydeville.  Having read only a couple nonfiction in my time I wasn't sure what to expect and for some reason feel nonfiction can be a tad boring. That wasn't the case with this book. 
Alison Weir is a well known historian and it shows.  This book is full of meticulous details, all backed up to show authenticity. The author has done an amazing amount of  research for this book and I can only imagine how long it has taken to write it.  She starts the book off by allowing the reader to see monetary values (by conventing to today's values) this gives the reader an idea of the cash flow in Elizabeth's time and I found this so very helpful.  Yes some might find it boring to read from her ledger and see what Elizabeth spent money on, but I found it fascinating.  It shows her to be a very generous and a caring queen, and also shows what was expecting of a her. 
Most of my history lessons are gleamed through historical fiction, this book was an eye opener to show that non fiction is just as interesting.  I learned a lot about Elizabeth of York, court life, the struggles that Henry VII sent through during his reign, their children and much more.  I found it very interesting that Elizabeth had a better claim to the throne then Henry VII, which is something that I never realized before.  I learned a lot from this book and am glad to have read it.

This book will appeal to those interested in the War of the Roses, Elizabeth of York, Henry VII and Henry VIII.

Other books by Alison Weir that I have enjoyed are A Dangerous Inheritance and Innocent Traitor

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